British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Sunday announced a phased reopening plan for England, although strict lockdown measures will continue in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland during the coronavirus pandemic. In a nationally televised address, Johnson said people should continue to work from home if they can and only return to work “if you must” and urged people not to take public transportation.
“This is not the time, simply, to end the lockdown this week,” Johnson said. “Instead, we’re taking the first capital steps to modify our measures.”
People in jobs such as construction and manufacturing are now being “actively encouraged” to return to work, Johnson said. Starting Wednesday, people can now go outside for unlimited exercise and sit on park benches, rather than for one hour a day.
While noting that any future plans could change if the rate of infection goes up, Johnson said that the second phase of reopening includes opening primary schools on June 1. And then in July, the country will start looking at opening parts of the hospitality industry, including shops, bars and restaurants.
Anyone who comes into the country by air will be put in quarantine, Johnson said. But after the speech, Johnson and French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron issued a joint statement saying the quarantine does not apply to France.
Johnson also announced the creation of an alert system to track the coronavirus.
After Johnson’s measures, London Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted that the city’s residents should still “continue to work from home if they possibly can” and also urged residents not to take public transportation. “I want to be as clear as possible with Londoners — social distancing measures are still in place,” Khan wrote. “You must still stay home as much as possible and keep a safe 2-meter distance from other people when you are out.”
Leaders in Scotland and Wales both rejected Johnson’s “stay alert” message and encouraged people to continue to stay at home. “Our advice has not changed in Wales,” said Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, meanwhile, said there is a need for a clearer message. Sturgeon told BBC News she is “particularly concerned” that moving from the “stay at home” message to “something much vaguer” means the public hasn’t been given clear instructions about what they should and shouldn’t do.